U.K. church boycotts all weddings to protest ban on gay marriage ceremonies

Here’s an interesting Newington story that has nothing to do with my hometown (though I did find it via my Google News Alert for "newington"). It’s from jolly old England:

Newington Green Unitarian Church, which the 18th century feminist Mary
Wollstonecraft once attended, has announced it will not hold marriages until it
is able to conduct civil partnerships for gay couples. …

At the moment, the law bans any religious service from taking place during a gay
civil partnership.

Minister Dr Andrew Pakula, who will only conduct services of blessing at
Newington Green until this is changed, said: "We will have no legal weddings
until we can conduct the same equal ceremonies for all couples – including
same-sex couples."

It’s pretty incredible to me that churches can be legally banned from doing as they please in this regard.  I, of course, completely agree with the council member who stated: "I wouldn’t advocate the law being changed to force churches to do gay marriages
but if they wanted to do it, then the law shouldn’t prevent it." Obviously. But I guess freedom of religion is "an American concept," too?

11 Responses to “U.K. church boycotts all weddings to protest ban on gay marriage ceremonies”

  1. Trisha says:

    This is completely OT, but I just wanted to check in and see if y’all were alright. Did you guys feel the earthquake this morning? Any damage to Knoxville? I know there’s quite a bit of structural damage in L’Ville, as I have a cousin very near there.

  2. Brendan Loy says:

    I was totally unaware of it until Becky mentioned it after seeing it either on TV or or on Drudge, I’m not sure which. We didn’t feel anything. (Well. We were asleep. So I guess we didn’t feel enough to wake us up.)

    Anyway, are you referring to Louisville, KY or Louisville, TN?

  3. Show me that smile again says:

    An american concept ? Not so much any more thanks to that bulwark of civilization the ACLU. http://www.nbc10.com/news/15897848/detail.html

    Freedom of religion not freedom from religion, eh Mitt. I’m right there dreaming with you.

  4. Trisha says:

    Well, it wasn’t specified to me which, but I guess, thinking about it, it would probably be KY, as that’s closer to the actual fault line where it all happened. Brian did a great blog post on it, if you’re interested:


  5. Aaron says:

    Why yes, “show me,” the ACLU is a “bulwark of of civilization,” though personally I wouldn’t put it in such grandiose terms. What’s that? Oh, I see. You were being snide. You’re one of those people.

    In my opinion, a decent respect for the good work done by the ACLU is a useful marker for identifying smart conservatives. I don’t expect unalloyed admiration, but outright contempt is the mark of a know-nothing.

    Europe has a reputation here in the States for being “more liberal” (the word being loosely defined) but as this law demonstrates, a better phrase would be “more populist” or “more socialist.” (Though I insist upon the lower-case “s”) Anyway, kudos to Newington Green Unitarian Church.

  6. Joe Mama says:

    Aaron probably had it right the first time that Europe has a reputation for being “more liberal” (although I would say big-L Liberal) . . . just look at Brigitte Bardot being put on trial in France for “inciting racial hatred” when she wrote the following in a letter to Sarkozy criticising the Muslim practice of slaughtering sheep:

    We’re fed up with being led by the nose by this population that is destroying us, destroying our country by imposing its acts.

    It’s worth keeping in mind what is and is not deemed an appropriate (or even legal) topic of conversation or debate in many parts of Europe these days. Similar to what Aaron said with respect to conservatives and the ACLU, a healthy skepticism about knee-jerk affirmations of European freedom and liberalism compared to the U.S. is a useful marker for identifying smart liberals . . . and unalloyed admiration is the mark of a know-nothing.

    As for this somewhat-conservative’s view of the ACLU, I’d say it’s only about half of their work that gives the other half a bad name ;-)

  7. Tracey Gold says:

    Who said merely denying the ACLU’s role as a bulwark of civilization is a complete condemnation ? Sure, when they have a conservative at a local helm, they tend not to do so much psychotic socialist revolutionary angry change. Not nearly as much.

  8. Alasdair says:

    Colour me suspicious, but this – “At the moment, the law bans any religious service from taking place during a gay civil partnership. “ – doesn’t *feel* right …

    I can see some in the sassenach legislative idiotocracy wanting to pass such legislation, but I cannot see ’em managing to pass such a broad law …

    A law that says that civil partners aren’t “married”, that I can see …

    How the $@#%$ they can prosecute someone for holding a Mass or “any religious service” during a gay Civil Partnership ceremony ?

    Now, local councils can do some very strange things … Parliament regularly does … but I want to see the cited Law first, before I take this article at face value …

    I wonder if it might not be some Church Law remnant … over here, under Pastor Phelps, his church won’t perform religious services during gay civil partnerships – that is Phelps’ “law” … and I wouldn’t want a regular member of Phelps’ congregation in *any* position of real power …

    (And, NO, I’m not a closet Hillary supporter)

  9. Guy says:

    I am a member of the Newington Green Unitarian Church in London. The law enacted in the UK which allows civil partnerships between same-sex couples gives civil partners pretty much all the same legal rights as married, opposite-sex, couples. That in itself is a good thing. But the same law forbids any religious element to a civil partnership ceremony. That includes making it illegal for it to take place in a place of worship. There is a similar restriction on religious elements to a civil marriage ceremony (i.e. one that takes place at a town hall or registry office). An opposite-sex couple has the choice of a church or registry office wedding. But all churches, no matter what the particular opinion of the congregation or denomination, are forbidden to hold religious civil partnership ceremonies, largely (in my view) because of unsatisfactory compromises made with anti-gay elements in the Church of England, the Roman Catholic Church, and others. As a result, Newington Green Unitarian Church has decided to protest this inequality of opportunity between same-sex and opposite-sex couples by refusing to conduct wedding ceremonies (open only to opposite-sex couples) but continuing to offer blessing ceremonies (open to all).

  10. Alasdair says:

    Guy – has this been challenged yet ? Has any religious group performed asame-gender wedding with accompanying religious element ?

    Was this passed for Scotland, too ? Or is it just a sassenach idiocy ?

  11. Guy says:

    I don’t know of a legal challenge, yet. I’m sure some groups are considering it. My own church’s protest appears to be the only one of its kind in the UK, or at least the first of its kind. I’d like to think other churches would take the same position, but I’m not holding my breath. And as far as I know this idiocy applies equally north of the border.

    At Newington Green we’re celebrating our 300th anniversary this year in the oldest nonconformist church in London; I’m proud that we are not just resting on our laurels but taking a lead on the issues of the day.

    One next step might be to directly defy the law by conducting what might be considered an illegal wedding. But it would take a gay couple wanting a religious wedding, a minister ready to conduct the service, and a church happy to support all three; and it’s not a step for any party to take lightly.